0

Clinton disavows push for VP

WASHINGTON - Hillary Rodham Clinton on Thursday disavowed efforts by some supporters who have urged Barack Obama to choose her as his running mate. The push-back came a day after the former first lady said she would end her quest for the Democratic nomination and endorse the Illinois senator.

'She is not seeking the vice presidency, and no one speaks for her but her,' communications director Howard Wolfson said. 'The choice here is Senator Obama's and his alone.'

Clinton was planning an event in Washington on Saturday to thank supporters and urge them to back Obama's candidacy. But as she was bowing out of the race, supporters in Congress and elsewhere were ramping up a campaign to pressure him to put her on the ticket in the No. 2 spot.

Bob Johnson, the billionaire founder of Black Entertainment Television and a Clinton supporter, sent a letter to the Congressional Black Caucus Wednesday urging the group to encourage Obama to choose Clinton as his vice presidential pick. He said he was doing so with her blessing.

Obama is seeking to become the first black president.

Clinton has told other friends and supporters she would be willing to be Obama's running mate. But her immediate task is bringing her own presidential bid to a close.

In an e-mail to supporters, the New York senator said she 'will be speaking on Saturday about how together we can rally the party behind Senator Obama. The stakes are too high and the task before us too important to do otherwise.'

Clinton expressed the same sentiment in a conference call with 40 members of her national finance committee, whom she urged to begin raising money for Obama and for the Democratic National Committee.

'She was in good spirits and totally supportive, without qualification, of Senator Obama and his campaign,' finance co-chairman Alan Patricof said of the call.

It was a shift in tone by the former first lady, who announced 17 months ago that she was 'in it to win it.' Many of her supporters want her as the vice presidential candidate, in their minds a 'dream ticket' that would bring Obama her enthusiastic legions and broaden his appeal to white and working-class voters.

But Obama indicated he intends to take his time making a decision.

'We're not going to be rushed into it. I don't think Senator Clinton expects a quick decision and I don't even know that she's necessarily interested in that,' Obama told NBC in an interview.

Clinton's move to formally declare that she is backing the Illinois senator came after Democratic congressional colleagues made clear they had no stomach for a protracted intraparty battle. Now that Obama has secured the 2,118 delegates necessary to clinch the nomination, Clinton had little choice but to end her quest, and sooner rather than later.